Samantha’s Top 10 Tips for Back to School Bliss

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Tip #1 Establish a Family Routine 🕤

Don’t start the school year suffering from Last Minute Syndrome! Now is a great time to establish (or re-establish) a family routine. 

At Kaizen, one of our favourite family strategies is SPOT — Sunday Planning and Organizing Time.

SPOT is a weekly 15-minute meeting where each family member shares their schedule and plans for the coming week. Sit down as a family before school starts and determine when your weekly meeting will happen throughout the year. (Hint: It doesn’t HAVE to be Sunday!) 

Not sure how to get started? Read the SPOT guide: Transform Your Family’s Week with SPOT

Tip #2 Take the Family Calendar Online 📅

Many families have a large, physical calendar posted at home which is a fabulous visual reminder when everyone is gathered at the house. 

For many of us, however, that beautiful visual is a distant, buried memory when faced with everyday distractors and stressors. 

I recommend setting up and using a shared digital calendar (Google, Outlook, etc.) that can be synced and shared between ALL family members. 

Here’s a guide to creating a family Google Calendar.

Set this up before school starts and have everyone create practice entries throughout the week. You can have fun with these — “Meeting with Lebron James, Tuesday, August 30, 10:30-11:30 am. Notes: Bring business cards.”

WARNING! Establishing routines takes time. But, like any new habit, once you practice and use it, voila! I love this model because it’s not all on me (the parent) to schedule everything and run interference when conflicts arise. 

We ALL contribute and it’s a fabulous way for your junior high or high schooler to plan and prioritize while keeping you in the know. 

Tip #3 Create Healthy Sleep Habits 🌙🛏️💤

Sleep is essential to learning, emotional regulation, and overall health.

Unfortunately, many kids and teenagers are sleep deprived. This is the biggest problem during the school year when early mornings and demanding routines affect sleep patterns.

A week or two before the first day of school, begin to slowly adjust to a reasonable school night bedtime routine. Make a family plan to reign in bedtime by 15 minutes a night until your child or teen hits 8-10 hours of sleep (depending on their age.)

It’s a great time to consider your own sleep routines and schedule. You may not be going back to school, but are you getting the sleep you need? 

Sleep is SO important for everyone. Like, really.

Tip #4 Scrutinize the School Supply List 📝

Your child will NOT use everything on the generic ‘School Supply List’. Take some time to consider the list before you go shopping, and be sure to check closets and desks for materials you already own. 

Check out my Essential Back-to-School Supply List to get materials that will actually be used AND help your child stay organized throughout the year. It covers what your child will need in the classroom and at home. 

Tip #5 Set Up The One-Binder System 📓

The One Binder System is our tried and true method for banishing lost papers, exploding backpacks, and inefficient systems. It involves having one one binder for all the subjects, and a folder system at home to store review materials. 

It’s best to get the system set up before your child goes to school. If you’re a longtime Kaizen fan, you probably recognize this system. Even if you have used it before, make sure it is reset and ready to go for day one! 

Read the guide Upgrade Your Child’s Focus with Just One Binder. It’s the perfect system for grades four through forever!

Tip #6 Design Visual Reminders of Routines and Expectations 🎨

Visual reminders are powerful and work. 

I swear by getting a large, magnetic whiteboard for every kid in their room or someone else where they will bump into it multiple times a day.

I love this example of No-Nag, Never Late Mornings by Susan Kruger. This is just one way to use a whiteboard! 

Read Why Every ADHD Student Needs a Whiteboard

Tip #7 Prepare for the Tsunami of School Emails and Forms 📧🌪️

You are about to be flooded with emails and forms. Prepare now by creating an email folder for school information. 

Make sure your child is ready with those handy dandy plastic dividers with pockets in their binder on the first day. These are on my essential school supplies list AND in the One Binder System Guide. (Are you starting to see a theme?)

The built-in slide pockets are perfect for catching all the important forms and notes! If your child is younger and hasn’t used the slide pockets before, make sure they are comfortable getting pages in and out, and they understand what to bring home.

Tip #8 Teach Your Child How to Use a Combination Lock (and Practice) 🔒

If your child will have a locker this year, make sure they know how to use a combination lock before school starts. 

Learning to open a combo lock on the first day of school while faced with the stress of meeting new classmates and teachers, navigating to new rooms, understanding course outlines, and making new friends is a STRESSFUL experience. 

Tackle the challenge from the comfort of home!

Tip #9 Pre-Scan the School Website 👀

For students in junior or senior high school, visit the school’s website before day one. 

What fun things are happening in the first month? Is there an annual calendar available you can print and/or add to your family’s digital calendar? Who is the principal? Who are the school counselors? When is picture day? You get the idea…

This doesn’t need to be a serious MI5 investigation but rather a time to explore, prime, and get excited!

Tip #10 Encourage Your Child to Help Others 🤝

Talk to your child about looking out for the kid who needs help. 

Who is eating lunch alone? Who is struggling to open their lock? Who is late for class? Who looks sad? Worried? Confused? 
Encourage your child to reach out. Helping others can alleviate their own internal worries, changing them to redirect their focus from only themselves to their collective community.

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